These five steps are absolutely vital for the successful rebrand of a company or organization. If you aren’t willing to do these five steps, then save your money…because the rebrand will most likely fail.
A winning brand strategy is one that is integrated into a company’s overall business strategy. There are a lot of reasons why, as I explained in my first blog, Top 5 Reasons For Growing Brand Value. But brand strategy won’t work unless its approach and methodology is correct, and that includes starting from the CEO on down and with clearly defined objectives. It’s very common to see companies make grand mistakes that render a brand literally ineffective, accomplishing few, if any, of the original business objectives for the rebrand. Here are a few tips before engaging on your company’s rebrand.
1. It starts with the CEO
Brand development is a strategic initiative – and therefore has to be driven by the CEO. The CEO is the only executive in a leadership position who can truly set the vision for both the company and the brand. The CEO has to live and breathe the brand passionately or the employees won’t adopt the brand. Employees crave authenticity. Your people have to feel the CEO deems the brand a vital component of why the organization is here. Otherwise, the employees will simply relegate the activity to just another marketing tactic. Of course, an effective brand development process includes input from the management team and a cross-section of employees. But, at the end of the day, the CEO makes the final strategic decisions and has to be the No. 1 champion of the brand.
2. Manage your assets
Folks often think once they go through a rebrand, their work is done. Beware! This will create the need for another rebrand in time — and all those dollars, resources and time will have to be replicated again! Brand value is an asset to be managed, and therefore is an investment that should be amortized over time. If done correctly, the value of your brand will grow steadily over time, making it your greatest investment without ever needing to replicate the process to remain relevant. Create concrete brand metrics, review them regularly, and actively make adjustments to ensure a clear, consistent and ever-relevant company brand. Engage in annual brand planning to determine where the brand needs are. Make decisions through your brand lens, then continue to invest in your brand. It is a most important asset and will pay big dividends over time.
3. Do your homework
Research and validation must be done to ensure the brand can indeed be adopted. Start with a gap analysis internally within the organization to determine the brand pulse of the company. Get a baseline of external perceptions of your brand in the marketplace. Do a competitive landscape and know the opportunities available within your playing field. Know your audience. Then, after you have delved into the brand process, validate it with your audience and make adjustments as necessary. Skipping your homework can be very costly in the long run.
4. Take your time
Leadership gets excited when brand work starts coming together. They want to get out there and show their new identity, often burrowing deep into the tactics to communicate the new positioning. However, this is a danger zone. If you get out there in the marketplace before your own people have totally bought into the new brand positioning, the target audience will most likely experience brand failure at the point of purchase, vowing never to return. Your audience no longer believes what you are saying when you communicate through marketing tactics. And you never get another chance to make a first impression. Take the time to get your people engaged and excited about the brand and the vision of where the company is headed. Don’t just have one launch event. Create adoption workshops to help them understand how they can deliver on the brand promise —no matter what their role is within the organization. When the internal work is done, only then do you launch your new brand externally.
5. Allocate your dollars wisely
You cannot skimp on the allocation of dollars for the employees’ internal adoption of your brand. Nor can you shortchange the annual brand planning efforts to ensure your brand is still on course. And, for heaven’s sakes, don’t take it out of the existing marketing budget! Marketing budgets should be in line with your annual operating budget. Brand development and brand building activities should have their own budget, and that budget includes some essential HR activities. The bottom line—you need both. Marketing is immediate. It brings customers to your door. However, it may not get them to buy. If you shortchange your marketing budget, no one will know about your business…few, if any, will come to your door. Brand building is more long term, but it communicates the value proposition of your offering. If you shortchange your brand budget, you may find your brand relatively worthless in a valuation. And, if you are a good steward of your brand, you may find your marketing expenditures drop because of the strength of the brand. How much money do you have to spend? Southwest Airlines has been known to allocate as much as 50 percent of its marketing budget on its people strategy. More often, budgets for brand development and brand building range from 6-20 percent of company revenues. Whatever budget you determine fits your needs, make sure it is an amount capable of growing your brand over time.